‘Force Of Nature’ (The Dry 2) Ending Explained: Is Martin Kovac A Real-Life Serial Killer?

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To be honest, I was quite excited for Eric Bana’s The Dry 2 for obvious reasons. The first film, based on Jane Harper’s novel, was a slow burn that took me by surprise. Anyone who has seen the film can’t erase that last montage and that background score from their memory because it tugs at your heartstrings. However, the second film, titled Force of Nature, fails to have the same impact. It is entertaining and engaging, no question about that, but still lacks that “wowza” moment for which the first film is remembered. And yes, Eric Bana is spectacular, as always. The film brings back the lead detective, Aaron Falk, who is working on a money laundering case but soon finds himself solving a missing person case in rural Australia. 

Based on Jane Harper’s second book, Force of Nature, the film of the same name takes place one year after the events of the first film. It has no connection with the first film and deals with a totally different case, even though the lead federal detective remains the same. The first film took place in Aaron’s hometown, Kiewarra, where he arrived to attend his childhood friend’s funeral and got involved in his murder investigation. The second film, on the other hand, shows glimpses of Aaron’s past life, taking a short trek to the wilderness of the Giralang Rangers with his mother and father. The trip soon turned into a nightmare and left a scar in Aaron’s life, from which he never really recovered. A return to the Giralang Ranges helps Aaron reconcile with his past.

Spoiler Alert


How did Aaron know Alice Russell?

In Melbourne, Alice worked as a senior financial advisor for Bailey Tennants, whose owner, Daniel Bailey, had been helping his clients evade taxes and hide their money overseas. The black money was further being used for laundering, slavery, and arms deals, because of which it caught the eye of the Australian Federal Police. Now, lead investigators Aaron and Carmen were trying to find evidence against Bailey when they found out about his employee, Alice, who had recently made a donation of $100,000 to her daughter’s school to secure her position in the prestigious institution. Alice’s daughter, Margot, was found guilty of bullying her classmate Rebecca, and while all the kids got expelled following the investigation, the management made an exception for Margot because her mother sweetened the deal with a hefty donation.

As soon as Aaron found the lead, he blackmailed Alice to help them gather evidence against Bailey and his clients (the dirty dozen) that would be enough to put them behind bars. Aaron left a pen drive with Alice and asked her to make digital copies of Bailey’s confidential documents. But before she could pull off the task, Daniel Bailey and his wife, Jill, took the company’s employee for a yearly retreat in the Giralang Ranges, where Alice disappeared without a trace. Before her disappearance, she made a call to Aaron but couldn’t communicate her worries because of the faulty network in the forest.


Is Martin Kovac A Real-Life Serial Killer?

The Bailey backpackers told local police, Sergeant King, about a cabin in the woods where they found a dog’s grave. It quickly gave King the idea that the location belonged to the infamous serial killer Martin Kovac, who was suspected of killing young women backpackers in the Giralang Ranges. Even Aaron’s flashbacks revealed that his mother, Jennifer Jen, had been killed (I guess she fell down) by the same Kovac ages ago because a young Aaron heard his dog barking seconds before his mother disappeared, only to be found severely wounded later. Most likely, the injury took his mother’s life, which took a toll on Aaron’s mental health. He didn’t really forgive himself for planning a trip to the Giralang Ranges, which caused him to lose his mother. Nevertheless, Jane Harper’s serial killer, Kovac, is entirely fictional. However, as per the reports, she has taken inspiration from a real-life Australian serial killer, Ivan Milat, who too used to target backpackers in Belanglo State Forest.


How did Alice die?

Even though Aaron found Alice’s dead body near Martin Kovac’s cabin, the serial killer had nothing to do with his mother’s death. Kovac used to operate somewhere in the 1990s and had been long dead. But Sergeant King was obsessed with finding his cabin, as he had been investigating the killer for the past 40 years and yearned for closure for those who lost their daughters in the forest. His obsession only became a hindrance in the case. He gave up the search for Alice due to an incoming storm, but Aaron felt responsible. He had already lost someone precious in those forests and wouldn’t just let it happen again. In the end, Aaron went into the forest all by himself and found Alice’s dead body near a broken stump outside Kovac’s cabin. It was the same location where Bree had fallen down and gotten bit by a deadly spider, which made it obvious that Bree and her sister, Beth, knew about Alice’s murder. It turned out that both of them were innocent, and it was actually Alice’s childhood friend, Lauren Shaw, who had accidentally killed Alice.

Throughout the film, everyone, including Jill, accused Alice of bullying her co-workers, which didn’t set a great example in the company. Jill had actually planned the retreat to deal with Alice’s temperament, but in the end, it turned out that Alice wasn’t a nice person to begin with. And she had been protecting her daughter for the same. She paid a huge amount of money to save her daughter instead of teaching her how to treat people kindly. Alice had just been helping the Feds because they found out about her bribe to the school, and it was quite evident that she literally had no remorse for what her daughter did to Lauren’s daughter, Rebecca.

On the morning of her murder, Alice sneaked out of Kovac’s cabin as she suspected Bailey’s wife, Jill, knew her secret. She stole her phone from Jill’s jacket and tried to call Aaron but couldn’t connect. It was at this time that Lauren saw Alice heading north and quickly confronted her. She asked her to leave the phone and torch behind so that others too could find their way out, but Alice, being Alice, could only manage to care about her own life and her daughter. The confrontation soon turned into a heated argument where Alice shamed Lauren for being a weak mother who failed to protect her weak daughter. Lauren couldn’t listen anymore and, in a fit of rage, pushed Alice, where the latter hit a rock on the ground and bled to death. Lauren couldn’t process the entire situation and went back to the cabin, thinking Alice would survive. 

When Lauren came back later, she didn’t find Alice at the spot and believed she was alive. But it turned out that Bree had moved Alice’s body to protect her sister, as she suspected Beth had killed her. Aaron had seen Lauren standing on the edge of Mirror Falls and sensed that something wasn’t right, but they couldn’t connect the dots. However, when Lauren’s daughter turned up at the hotel and couldn’t find her mother, Aaron knew at that moment where Lauren would be. He quickly ran towards the falls and found Lauren trying to commit suicide as she felt guilty for murdering her childhood best friend. And even if Aaron saved her in time, Lauren would be sentenced to a correctional facility for accidentally killing Alice and hiding the crime.


What Will Happen to Daniel Bailey?

During Force of Nature’s ending, Beth, who worked in the data room, told Aaron that Bailey suspected her of being the whistleblower, but it turned out it was Alice all along. During the trek, Beth had seen Alice hiding a pen drive near their first campfire, which Beth picked up as she could surmise what Alice was up to. It was the same pen drive on which Alice had made digital copies of Daniel’s wealthy clients, the evidence that Aaron needed. Beth finally gave that pen drive to Aaron, which would help him set up a legal case against Bailey Tennants and put Daniel behind bars for financial fraud and corruption. Indeed, most of the employees were going to lose their jobs after the entire fiasco, but Beth, who had a history of crime, wanted to do the right thing in life so that she could make up for her past mistakes.


Why Did Aaron Go Back To The Cliff?

In Force of Nature’s ending, Aaron went back to the same spot where his mother went missing. He and his father searched the entire forest just to find his mother some days later. She was severely wounded and didn’t survive. Throughout his life, Aaron blamed himself for his mother’s death and couldn’t recover from the loss. The film didn’t explicitly reveal the reason why Aaron felt so, but perhaps it was because the trek was Aaron’s idea. Or maybe because his mother fell down (or slipped) from the cliff because Aaron got distracted. I want to believe that Aaron’s mother, Jen, slipped the same way Lauren slipped from Mirror Falls. Therefore, saving Lauren from dying served as Aaron’s redemption arc, and he unburdened his guilt by saving someone’s life in the same Giralang Rangers where he lost his mother. He wanted it to be Alice, but at the end of the day, at least Aaron was able to make peace with his past.


Will there be a third film?

Jane Harper has written a third book, which centers around the lead detective, and is titled Exiles. As per the media reports, it is the last book in the series, which tells us that we might see Eric Bana donning the role of Aaron Falk one more time, most likely the last time. The book revolves around an investigation of a missing woman named Kim Gillespie, who disappeared from the famous Marralee Valley Food and Wine Festival. When Aaron visits the town a year after Gillespie’s disappearance, he takes on the case to find the missing woman who has left behind her six-week-old daughter. Hopefully, the third and last The Dry film is going to bring back the magic of the first film.


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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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